Mr Jonathan Mills

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW31043

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:10 22/10/2018 End: 16:00 22/10/2018

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Caution

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Allegation

 

Whilst registered as a Social Worker and employed by Hope House Children’s Hospice, you:

 

1. Whilst supervising Colleague A, who provided Bereavement Support to Service User A and Service User B:

 

a) In respect of Service User A:

 

i. did not follow the correct referral process;

 ii. allowed Colleague A to provide bereavement support before the case was heard at Panel;

 iii. did not ensure that case records were accurate and/or up to date and/or undertaken in a timely manner;

 iv. between 29 January 2016 and 20 May 2016, did not put in place appropriate safeguarding measures.

 b) In respect of Service User B:

 i. did not follow the correct referral process;

 ii. allowed Colleague A to provide bereavement support before the case was heard at Panel;

 iii. allowed Colleague A to meet Service User B immediately after the referral;

 iv. did not conduct an Assessment visit;

 v. did not ensure that written consent was obtained;

 vi. did not meet with Service User B;

 vii. did not ensure that case records and/or notes were undertaken.

 2. Did not apply for Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards authorisation and/or obtain authorisation for visits in respect of:

 a) Service User C, on:

 i. 21/03/2016;

 ii. 28/04/2016;

 iii. 09/06/2016;

 iv. 14/07/2016.

 b) Service User D, on:

 i. 06/12/2015;

 ii. 15/02/2016;

 iii. 26/02/2016;

 iv. 01/05/2016.

 c) Service User E, on:

 i. 01/06/2014;

 ii. 06/11/2014;

 iii. 15/02/2015;

 iv. 27/03/2015;

 v. 04/06/2015;

 vi. 09/07/2015;

 vii. 28/08/2015;

 viii. 26/09/2015;

 ix. 06/02/2016.

 d) Service User F, on:

 i. 16/09/2013;

 ii. 13/10/2016;

 iii. 05/05/2014;

 iv. 11/07/2014;

 v. 14/09/2015;

 vi. 13/12/2015

 vii. 13/05/2016.

 3. Did not store confidential information relating to service users in an appropriate manner.

 4. Sent an inappropriate post to Colleague A via Facebook.

 5. The matters described at particulars 1 to 4 amounts to lack of misconduct.

 6. By reason of your misconduct  your fitness to practise is impaired.

 

Finding

 

 

 

 Preliminary matters:
 
1. The Panel accepted that good service had been effected by way of a letter and an email dated 7 August 2018.
 
Proceeding in Absence
 
2. Miss Senior submitted that it was appropriate to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and paid due regard to HCPTS' Practice Note on 'Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant.' Good service having been found, the Panel noted the contents of the recent email, dated 18 October 2018, received
from Stephensons' solicitors LLP, on behalf of the Registrant, which stated that neither they nor the Registrant himself would be  in attendance at today 's hearing and added that they were content for the hearing to proceed in their absence.
 
3. The Panel accepted that it was entirely app ropriate, in these circumstances, that this case should be heard in the absence of the Registrant and his representatives.
 
Proceeding in Private
 
4. Miss Senior told the Panel that a small part of these proceedings would make reference to the health of the Registrant and that, accordingly, such references , in order to preserve the private life of the Registrant, should be heard in private.
 
5. The Panel agreed and granted this application.
 
Amendment to Allegation
 
6. Consistent with information already provided to the Registrant,  the HCPC applied to amend the allegation by removing particular 3 from it - this, on the grounds that there was no evidence to sustain it. Miss Senior also sought the Panel's leave to amend particular 5 as follows:-
'The matters described at particulars 1, 2 and 4 amount to misconduct.'
This was designed to reflect the removal of particular 3 from the allegation.
 
7. These uncontested applications were granted by the Panel.

Background:

8. Whilst he was employed as a Social Worker with Hope House Childrens ' Hospice , the Registrant was in charge of supervising Colleague A, who began work with the hospice whilst on a placement from university . When his placement was over, Colleague A performed voluntary duties with the hospice and continued to undertake bereavement support work with the young people he had been supporting during the course of his placement. These young people are referred to in the Allegation as Service Users A and B. The Registrant also worked direct ly, at the material time, with Service Users C, D, E and F.


9. Particula rs 1 and 2 of the allegation detail the misconduct performed by the Reg istrant in relation to these service users from September 2013 to October 2016.
 
10. Colleague A stopped his voluntary work with the hospice without  warning. The Registrant made a number of attempts to  contact Colleague A which culminated in posting to him an inappropriate message on Colleague A's Facebook page.

11. On 14 November 2016, the Registrant self-referred to the HCPC by email.

12. On 30 November 2016, after the hospice had started its disciplinary process, the Registrant tendered his resignation from it.

13. On 26 May 2017, a panel of the Investigating Committee of the HCPC met and determined that there was a case for the Registrant  to answer  in respect of this Allegation. Since that date, the  amendments  referred to at paragraph 6 above were approved.

14. On 10 April 2018 the Registrant's solicitors provided to the HCPC a letter which stated that the Registrant would make a full admission to the remaining parts of the allegation. A 16 page document to this effect was appended. The letter also contained a request for consideration to be given for the case to be disposed of by consent.

15. After due consideration, the HCPC accepted that the course suggested of Disposal by Consent, would be appropriate in this case, subject to the eventual approval of this Panel.

16. In its written submission to the Panel, dated 2 October 2018, the HCPC remarked that the Registrant was demonstrating insight into the matters which gave rise to his misconduct and also  a demonstrable  willingness to address his failings by the undertaking of additional training. The example cited in this document was the statement of the Registrant as follows: 'I understand my actions were wrong and I have completed further training in information governance cyber security and I have a clear understanding of the policy for staff using social media in my new role.'

17. In the same submission a note was made that the Registrant has undergone training with respect to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

18. Furthermore, the contention of the HCPC is that the Registrant's statement contains evidence of reflection with respect to his failings and the impact they have had on the public's trust in the profession. The Registrant, the HCPC was told, is now working in a new role in fostering recruitment and assessment and no concerns have been raised in respect of this.

19. The view expressed by the HCPC in this skeleton argument is that 'there is an unlikelihood of repetition of the misconduct and a caution order would provide the appropriate level of public protection'.
 

Decision

20. The Panel found all of the particulars in the amended Allegation proved by admission. The submissions referred to in the written argument of 2 October 2018 were repeated and expanded upon by Miss Senior in her submission to the Panel that the appropriate course to adopt in this case would be to sanction a consent order and issue a caution order for a period of three years.

21. No objection by the Registrant's representatives was made for such a course to be adopted.

22. The Panel listened with care to the contentions made by both sides, oral and written, and took the advice of the Legal Assessor. It also paid appropriate regard to the HCPTS Practice Note 'Disposal of Cases by Consent' dated March 2018.

23. The Panel took into account that, save for this unfortunate period in his life when these failings appeared in his practice, the Registrant has been a good Social Worker for 19 years. The Panel also took into consideration the health and personal matters facing the Registrant at this time. There were many testimonials and character references to this effect that were submitted by the Registrant.

24. The view of the Panel is that, in all the circumstances, repetition of such misconduct is unlikely. The Panel is impressed by the wide-ranging remedial action the Registrant has taken over the last two years. It seems now, to the Panel,  that any risk  to the public is minimal and that  it is not in the wider public interest to proceed to a final hearing.

25. Therefore, the Panel determines that it is appropriate to grant this application for a Consent Order and imposes what it considers to be a proportionate sanction, namely a Caution Order for three years.

 

 

Order

ORDER: That the Registrar is directed to annotate the register entry of  with a caution which is to remain on the register for a period of [length] year(s) from the date this order comes into effect.


"

 

 

Notes

 

A Consent hearing of the Conduct and Competence Committee took place at 405 Kennington road, London on Monday 22 October 2018. A Caution Order was imposed.


 

 

 

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Jonathan Mills

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
22/10/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution